Co_creation a la LYNDSEY

P L A Y @ S U P E R H E R O – I N G

Superhero strike-a-pose atop the Song & Spirit Institute.

Our trip mascot, the present moment monkey! Laughing Moon’s favorite stuffed toy equipped with projectile technology, to trick people into staying present enough to catch it…. {photo by Wandering Wolf}

“Ride tight into the city – two up, take a lane.”   As is the custom, someone from Navigation dances us through the turns of the day’s route before we mount up.  Not that we’re going anywhere very fast….  Orchestrating twenty-three costume-clad, service-touring bike-riders is semi-complex choreography that involves any combination of partner-stretching, harmonica-singing, flat-tire-fixing, sweeping camp, calling home, repacking group trailers so the twenty pound bag of oats has a home, and elaborate farewell-ing of the current hosts. Add to the intrigue that at any moment, a laughing stuffed monkey can and will fling itself into your personal space. Estimated times of departure: we laugh in your face.

Grace Lee Boggs asks us "What time is it on the clock of the world?"

Check cash liquor beer wine lotto nails hair! Pothole. Check cash! Pothole. Liquor beer! Pothole.  Lotto nails liquor beer, potholeholehole. HONK ~ HONKHONK HOOOONK!!! Ya’ll look Gooooood!” Entering Detroit was a sensorial Girltalk mashup of shredding billboards, forgotten street repair, a chorus of crickets chirping spliced with rim-rattling bass, and surprisingly curious and friendly locals. All set in a vast, magical decaying – wait . . . reviving? –space.  And then….a bag pipe welcome into the Occupy camp?!  Timespace meltdown.  Such that, later that night, in a backyard filled with young, old, Black, White, streetclothes, and capes,  when ninety-six year old powerhouse activist Grace Lee Boggs asks: “What time is it on the the clock of the world?” My body aches to laugh like stars who know the secret answer.  So I listen.

In true Bicycling Superhero form, the vacant lot we are invited to make our basecamp just so happens to be across the street from the home that will host this new heroine of mine, whom I’d just discovered in a “podcast while painting” spree last spring during “Great in April” (my friend Eleanor’s facebook-group double-dog dare to get up before the sun and do something we love every morning for the month. Who said basefook couldn’t be brilliant?). Serendipitously, we had arrived to Detroit just as the Midwest Occupy conference was getting underway, and checked in with organizers to find out where we could best plug in.  They suggested we link up with the Occupy neighborhood-outpost coordinated by Jasahn Larsosa and This Hood of Ours. We did, and ‘landed’ in a similarly broad fashion as we depart — instant circus sprawl of:  random ukelele strains; brightly colored sleep tents; camp-stove set up on the porch of an abandoned house as cook team starts chopping; and curious scouts who set out to meet people and get the story of where we are and how we can serve. Meanwhile, I hang with kids and mamas, face-painting rainbow unicorn butterflies on chatty ten-year-old cheeks and “praise the lords” on grandma’s hands while a handful of superheroes amp up the corner pickup game into some real ball.

A unified “AWOOOOGAH” calls us in, and we circle up for song and announcements before we feast on a spread of cooked greens garnished with gathered purslane and curried lentil soup with croutons made from dumpstered bagels. We finish dinner in time for the neighborhood gathering, and a respectful silence creeps up my spine watching this woman who’s spent twice as many years as I’ve been alive pouring her energy into justice for all. Civil rights protestor, labor union supporter, and no-word-waster: “I’m not going to talk long, so you better listen well”.  Frail in body, she reclined into her wheelchair with a spirit that soared and hovered all around us as she spoke. “What time is it on the the clock of the world?”

Grace Lee Boggs asked us to see each other as creators of the future. With our imaginations intact and leading, she asked us to consider the notion of EPOCH and ground in that as the amplitude of this present shifting. As hunting-gathering gave way to agriculture, as agricultural society gave way to industry, as industrial society gives way to globalized postmodernmishmashclusterfuck of ……… what now?  Detroit lives as a case study of this question like no other metropolis, she observes;  we don’t know yet where it will go because we are still making it up, and our earth asks for our ability to re-create educational, economic, and political systems such that we’ve not seen. We are reinventing City. “Use your imaginations like never before.”

Falling asleep, I snuggle in the tent with Soular Eclipse and take turns recounting the days’ events, and we marvel at the gift of living into this shift.  Down the street we hear a crew of superheroes song-swapping with the neighbors around the campfire. “love is * the healing power, love is * the healing power, the more you give * the more you get….”

In my city life, I can get forgetful.  I settle for cute digital serenditipities “like wow that’s soooo cool that itunes dj like totally dj’ed that song like right now” or “awesome, yeah, 11:11 again!” or “wow you totally called me when I was thinking of you!”  //?!?//  it’s like: The universe wants to ravish and delight me, body + mind + spirit, and I settle for a teeny weeny blown kisses over skype or something?  AS IF that green light at the top of my screen is the window to your soul.

I am game for being present so consummately and completely that unplanned convergences the likes of which I can’t conceive melt me open, opener, openest.  While I’m chopping wood, carrying water.  Am i?  No expectations. Total availability.  Do that thang.  I love this bike tour because it’s great Practice for the soul postures necessary to this cosmic game of co-creating.  And remembering: what does it mean to be truly human?

Jasahn and Night Shift hold a banner while Hooprider takes Grace Lee Bogg's words to heart.

Bright Sky pedals a country road on a particularly perfect, technicolor day.

You’re WhAT??

“the important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to LOVE.” -St Teresa of Avila

So who/what/where/when/why/how turned this comic strip harebrained scheme into an actual yearly phenomenon? One of my favorite “WE are THE INTERNET” moments in training was when we circle-shared each of our stories of how we each encountered the ride. Originally a sans-website event (though now documentary trickles like this find social media and small-town newspapers quite frequently), our answers wove a beautiful relational web traipsing through farms, word-of-mouth, and friends-of-friends.

Let the Zing tell you the whole story – here’s a great youtube series on how the ride formed, from the legend of the towel-caped lifeguard getting kids to help in the fight against beach litter.   The Ghandi-inspired, electricity-free Possibility Alliance, where Ethan (aka the Zing) and a handful of others are building a permaculture homestead in northeastern Missouri, is the HQ for the international bicycling superheroes movement. Since 2000, over 500 people have joined in on over 20 substance-free service rides taking place on 3 continents.  Each rider creates a superhero identity, dresses up accordingly, gets together simple gear, hops on a bike, and rides together with a crew of 10-40 people for more or less a month, developing team chemistry, honing superpowers, and offering spontaneous service to people they meet along the way.

We listen in to the Stone Soup pantry's history and vision.

The idea is to be guided both by inner desire and by the needs of people we encounter. Some of our “missions” this year included the simple weeding of flowerbeds (much to the delight of cooks who integrated the red clover, wood sorrel, lambsquarters, and purslane into meals), stocking a food pantry, helping an organization build a parade float, plastering a mud house, building compost piles, giving an art lesson and leading games at a boys & girls club, digging gardens, scrubbing + vacuuming + sweeping + dusting + cleaning + beautifying, and mostly – lots of conversations, listening, and encouraging.

The formula is simple: once you’ve been on a ride, you can call a ride. A streamlined set of rituals, roles, and principles provides the ‘container’ – so each ride has a tremendously unique spirit based in the setting and characters, but all share a framework and core set of values.

CJ's photo of us for his article in the Oxford Leader, in front of Strawbale Studio's mud house!.

For a more reporterly view, here’s a sweet article by CJ Carnacchio who we met outside Pontiac.

I found out about the ride through Queen Bee, a permaculturist who landed on the doorstep of the community center where I used to live for a potluck when she moved to town.  A subsequent visit to the Possibility Alliance for a week-long “Superhero Clowning for Social Justice” retreat shook the foundations of my soul, and I went on the Texas ride in December 2010. I fell in love with this playful, sustainable, co-adventuring and all the people drawn to share it.  I wrote about that ride here – mostly how it coincided with and foreshadowed a mighty healing crisis for me.

Happy. {photo by Wandering Wolf}

So, “I am the SerendipiTease!!!!…always in the right place at the right time and ready to play awake our luscious aliveness!!” The juice of this super-identity, for me, has been flirting with the nurturing, sensuality, confidence, and leadership that are more slippery and difficult to take on as fully in my city identity.  With the huge amount of support we share as a crew, I get to practice ways of being that sometimes feel vulnerable to keep up with in the nitty gritty city.  We help each other be bigger and brighter.

The learning certainly felt different the second time around.  I tend to glamorize first times, so familiarity with this form let me do a deeper kind of work than before. I want to write about this deepening, and also how moved I am by what it means to Circle, and how impacted I was by the lives of the elders we got to meet and serve.

Sharing food in the yard at Song & Spirit. Mealtimes are glue for the group. {photo by Wandering Wolf}

In the barn loft at Three Roods during training, Laughing Moon walks us through his archetype cards as we discern our superhero identities.


“what is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us. Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.” –rainier maria rilke

So I’m guilty of wanting everything to be perfect, all the time. I’m sure it has more than a little to do with my raised-upper-middle-class, White, conservative Christian, overachiever upbringing. And I’m generally having fun laughing at myself, loosening shadow patterns’ fingers out my thoughts through co-counseling, meditation,  patience, and shadow work.  Still, they persist.  “First times” get mostly exempt from the inner bitch’s criticism, since I have nothing to compare them to.  While my first superhero ride felt like an escapist vacation to a whole new world, this ride felt more like putting on muck boots and wading through a dank sewer, finding diamonds.

The rad Superhero Training Academy logo!

I could already feel my expectations wrangling my emotions on the drive up to our launch site, anxiety mounting as judgments and fears crowded out my ability to be present. The rental SUV miraculously loaded with six people, six bikes, and all our gear glided through a slick, white-knuckled downpour as we quabbled over directions.  The moment we landed things shifted; Stardust and Slow Truth had fixed a steamy pot of soup, and Laughing Moon immediately invited us all to circle up and take a big breath together.  THAT.  What is that magic?  In no time. The sharpness softens.  Glancing around at the first arrivals, I remembered that our togetherness is the cauldron and safety that brings up the Difficult to let it pass through.   As I relaxed into this, I enjoyed deepening into this particular group shape, and deepening into my personal learning, the second time around.

A foremost difference for me this ride was getting to be a part of the initial three days of team-building (I had missed due to illness last ride). Three Roods Farm, a sacred 23 acres outside the tiny town of Columbiaville, Michigan, hosted our training in their goat barn, garage, teepee, and open spaces.  Stripes and sequins sniffing each other out: new and old superheroes trickled in and started to form a brigade of awesome.  We played and ate and skinny-dipped and sang;  we shared the history of the ride, created costumes and characters, reviewed consensus process and basic bike maintenance skills,  broke into our four core teams, and took turns voicing our strengths and weaknesses.  This foundation paved the way for deeper play.

The sanctity and spaciousness of the farm lent a profoundly gentle energy to our gathering together, and it felt important that Greg and Robin ( aka Superhero Dancing Breath), weren’t strangers. Stardust and her brother Trashformer had  both WOOFed with them over the years; this connection lent a family feel that set a theme for our trip. Because Stardust and Laughing Moon, who collaborated in calling the ride, are both native Michiganites, we loosely built our trek around their local connections. By contrast, the Texas ride connections were all strangers. The fact that there were more ‘known’ stops on this ride gave a quality of deeper relationship, of building something sacred together.  And because Laughing Moon was meeting people near his home at Song & Spirit Institute outside Detroit, he’s built connections on this ride that he is now maintaining – he and Jasahn continue to collaborate on programs.   The non-profit organization that Moon is building, The Superhero Training Academy, houses a vision that existed before he found the Bicycling Superheroes, but dovetails seamlessly with it.   These connections, more enduring than the fleeting moments of spontaneous service,  nudge me to wonder if this way of being is broader than a month’s adventure.  Could the ride be a lifestyle – a contingent of Peace Pilgrim protégés on bike, banded together to infuse loving earth-efforts with fresh breath and extra oomph – - – all the while cross-pollenating the movement?  Mmmmm, pet daydream.

Laundry day!

After a few stops in our trek, I noticed a rhythm forming: this year, we wove back and forth from the country into the city, contrasting between the tranquility of service to longstanding sustainability projects in nature, and the lively unexpectedness of more populous hustle-bustle.   From Three Rood Farm to Lapeer, from Straw Bale Studio on to Pontiac, from Song and Spirit into Detroit. (Song & Spirit is technically not in the country, but the large garden and yard we camped in gave it the air of oasis).   The country felt soothing and enlivening –  freedom from social norms, stars to gaze at,  hands in dirt, pee on the earth. The cities felt jarring and challenging and surprising –riding that edge of being total Weirdos, scoring big in dumpsters, and having to constantly explain ourselves — but maybe bringing greater joy when we did get through.  The country felt ample and abundant; the city presented people with more visible need and discouragement.  This fed my ongoing inquiry of where and how to nest in this lifetime.  I love remembering my heritage as an earth-being among the buzzing bees and swaying trees, learning how to grow my food and be still.  AND I love the richness of the human diversity and everybody-all-at-onceness of a city, a million paths stacked and hungry to rub up against each other.  There seems to be some weaving back and forth I want to live into, and this ride snapshot that perfectly. It felt so balanced to get refreshed in nature and bring that fullness to the city to share. Our crew this time had a much stronger focus on sustainability skills, with Trashformer’s passion for humanure, Hoopriders fastidious composting, and Slow Truth’s keen eye for edible plants — these gifts came with us into the city and helped us stay connected to earth even there.

I adored experiencing how different people fill this shape, how it will never be the same ride twice. The uniqueness of each being poured into the flexibility of the ride’s form yields totally distinct results.        Curious Fox. Hops. Lady Joystice. Sunbelly. Wandering wolf. Earthly delights. Nightshift. Captain valor. Luminous tigress. Heavenly mountain. Hooprider. Soular eclipse. The serendipiTease. Tangerine Dreamer.  Periphery. Stream Dancer. Laughing Moon. One Drop. Stardust. Slow Truth. WanderWoman. Split Second. Soren Wheelskegaard. Love Bomba. ComeOcean of Love. The Great Gitcheegoomee. Fortidude. Infinity Mann. Buzz. Say each name and a scroll unfolds, a torrent of joy for the miracles latent in each of us.  I am so grateful for a group to experiment this way with – for the safety of a tried & true formula, for the freedom to tweak it, for the intensity of spending every waking minute together, and for the relief in knowing it’s only temporary.

I modeled the sun in the sign after Joyful Weaver's amazing sun-oven.

On my second time around, particular personal lessons came foreground:

I was more prepared to bring my particular skills as service. Last trip I noticed how quickly my cart because the Art Cart full of creative raw material flotsam, and was excited to play that up even more this year.  Stocked with extra costumes, face paint, the group art kit, sewing supplies, and a set of acrylics, I was more equipped to help beautify the places we stopped.  We got to sew two sets of prayer flags for the Song&Spirit Institute, do up fancy eye swirls for a bunch of teenage girls at a town carnival, and paint a sign for Strawbale Studio.

Stretch-dancing to Laughing Moon's harmonica while we awaited lift-off. {photo by Wandering Wolf}


I was more connected to my own daily spiritual practice. It’s easy to get unhinged and lose a sense of self with a group that strong ~ so I took extra care this year to wake up a little bit early to catch some time sitting still, stretching with the sunrise, and setting my intention for the day.  This made a sweet difference!  Coming directly from my 200-hr yoga teacher training, it felt easy to stay in touch with the importance of this rhythm for me, and I was blessed to have the companionship of One Drop and others who fed their daily practice.

Love notes for breakfast.

I was more willing to take on leadership. A long time shadow of ‘fear I’ll do it wrong’ has kept me hanging back in certain ways in my life, and it felt good to practice speaking up more and leaning into the challenges this brought up.  I was more eager to facilitate games, suggest we try rituals new ways, and reflect back when the group was in a funk. Laughing Moon gave me great feedback to talk slower and take breaths when I’m explaining things for a group. ;0 I am learning to leave space for silence.

6'8" Soular Eclipse's superpower?: He blocks the sun, so you can compassionately see your shadow.

I was more aware of our group’s shadow side. Partly because my own attention is currently focused on wanting to bring to awareness and acceptance those darker parts of my own personality, I was tuned in to our group in this way.  Particularly in Detroit and as a mostly-White group, I was aware of the lingering legacy of white privilege and the possibility of trailing an unspoken message that we were ‘here to save the day’.  Which we had overtly discussed as a group – our desire to let our superhero characters simply be playful ice-breaking and then come through with our lived belief that we are blessed to seek out and learn from the true superheroes who are living the commitment to their work day in and day out.   Another shadow aspect of our group at times can be unawareness or lack of sensitivity to the others’ needs: if we get wrapped up in our game and lose awareness, our desire to ‘bonk reality’ can turn into an uncomfortable and unwelcome disruption. . . like our well-meaning burst into a local newsroom to brighten their day with a 2 minute songbreak.  “Ummmm….we’re working.”  Oops. Yeah. Sorry bout that!   The blessing is to have a group that actively leans into this understanding to evolve together.

Love bomb! Sometimes we leave a trail of colorful encouragement and cash from the service fund.

I was more patient with our group pace and style. I remember in TX getting fed up with what felt like total inefficiency: “We hardly get ANYTHING done!? We move slow, we take forever in group process, and what does it matter if that roadside has three bags less trash? We aren’t really DOING anything…..”  But as I reflected on that ride, a few things became clear. 1) The ‘soft skills’ that the superheroes bring in force, like encouragement, playfulness, beginner’s mind, and listening, far outshine our offerings of physical help.  As a society addicted to bottom line and to-do lists, we forget to measure Upliftment as an outcome. Spreading the joy of living outside the box, even for a moment’s interaction, plants a precious seed.  2)  The group processing, sustainability of bike travel, and commitment to experiment with dumpstering and scavenging as part of food supply are SLOW compared to modern pathways. And: this is totally part of the importance of the work.   So this year, when similar frustrations arose, my witness consciousness was stronger and actually allowed me to celebrate the transformation-in-the-making even when the process was uncomfortable.

Impromptu flossing party! when "oh, that looks fuN, do you have some more?" quickly turns into a bizarre little spectacle....

The full moon peeks in as Tangerine Dreamer, Stardust, and Love Bomba guess at charades. {photo by Wandering Wolf}


“in a world continuously presenting unique challenges and ambiguities, play prepares us for an evolving planet.” – bob fagen

Senses awake and jolted out of the rut of old stories: play brings us triumphantly into the present moment.  On the ride, every day after breakfast, someone rolls the Dice of Destiny.  The number rolled corresponds to a game on a page in the group journal where, during training, we made a huge long list all of our favorite games.  Sometime during the day, we find time for the game – from sock wrestling to freeze tag to vocal-stration to tent slumber party to fashion show…..and on. The day we rolled “Talk in an Eastern European accent,” we made the mistake of playing the game for a few too many hours…. We had to force ourselves to stop and even then would slip back into it thru the rest of the trip. But our nonsense had made us friends: local drama teachers had been magnetized by our laughter and stuck around to facilitate theatre games. Favorite new game: Pass the Parcel, brought by Earthly Delights.   (I dubbed her the play queen; with her Australian accent, sly grin, and playfully authoritative attitude, resistance was futile. Joy inevitable.) ~A question is wrapped in a bundle of fabric, which is wrapped with a question and another piece of fabric, and another question and piece of fabric – on and on til its as big as you like.  Someone plays music while the parcel is passed, and when the music stops – whoever has the parcel unwraps and answers the question.

Belly laughs anon.

Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, writes “The genius of play is that, in playing, we create imaginative new cognitive combinations. And in creating those novel combinations, we find what works.” Often in the city, I feel daunted by the inextricable social pattern of casual hanging out a bar or party or show or gallery and small talking while drinking.  Super fun once in awhile, but for me quickly gets to feeling dull, scripted, and superficial….  i’m sure that’s partly me projecting at-times pouty disempowerment, but also true longing for camaraderie in social traditions that feel healthier for planet and body.  No bottles to recycle, no hangovers to cure, no money spent on killing brain cells.  And its true: good-for-you good-times are on the upswing, from flash mobs to book clubs to meet-ups and massage swaps.  This month of pure companionship in a substance-free commitment, along with overt shared intentions, helps me RESET and remember how much power we have to create new pathways.    On the ride, we make space to truly see each other.  I reconnect to the importance of play, music, Circle, and ritual in writing the story of who we are as humans.

In the beginning of Gaviotas, (a book lent to me by superhero One Drop about an ecovillage in the Colombian desert), author Alan Weisman recounts a story that Colobian president Belisario Betancur told to Gaviotas’ founder, Paolo Lugari.

…That night over dinner, Bank president Felipe Herrera, a Chilean economist, told of a tiny Indian village on the high altiplano near Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca, where he’d gone on a feasibility study for a proposed hydro-electric dam. Upon completing the site visit, his team realized they hadn’t used their entire travel budget. Since the village lacked everything, they assembled the local chiefs and explained that they had some money left. In gratitude for hospitality and assistance, they’d like to give it to the community as a gift. “What project would you like us to fund here in the name of the Bank?”

The Indian elders excused themselves and went off to discuss this offer. In just five minutes they returned. “We know what we want to do with the money.”

“Excellent. Whatever you want.”

“We need new musical instruments for our band.”

“Maybe,” replied the Bank team spokesperson, “you didn’t understand. What you need are improvements like electricity. Running water. Sewers. Telephone and telegraph.”

But the Indians had understood perfectly. “In our village,” the eldest explained, “everyone plays a musical instrument. On Sundays after mass, we all gather for la retreat, a concert in the church patio. First we make music together. After that, we can talk about problems in our community and how to resolve them. But our instruments are old and falling apart. Without music, so will we.”

During the ride, I get to touch this truth in sacred ways. The way we ‘talk’ when we improvise, the sensitivity inherent to that sort of intuition and anticipation, is alive in the way we feel and respond to each other and the world.  During my Cherokee advocacy days, I remember wishing that business owners would be up for a romping round of sound before we dove into the agenda…. I understood that sharing our humanity would lessen the meeting doldrums and soften commonplace competition.  On rides I get to indulge with like minds: we sing a lot— before meals, on bikes, doodling around on breaks.  Above is a video collage of the few, random soundbytes I remembered to catch by recording. I especially loved all of Dancing Breath’s sharing of Dances of Universal Peace. Too bad I was too dreamy in the mornings to capture The Minstrel Cycle, our amazing impromptu wake-up call band that roamed tent-to-tent with a roving crew of ukeleles, harmonicas, didgeridoos, and guitar to woo us to our day with brilliant and inane remixes.

Fancy seats at Three Roods. Mostly we took our meals on the earth.

OH! Periphery.

The primary shape of the ride is the circle.  Circle up for song before meals, circle up for thanking & sharing at night, circle up for consensus decisions, circle up to bid farewell to those we meet. It’s like stretching a muscle you forgot you had, this practice of sharing power and leaning in to welcome all voices.  Should we sleep in this park without express police permission? Shall we bike into Detroit this afternoon or wait until the morning?  Where shall we give our service fund money? Culturally, we are accustomed to fitting into a hierarchy; learning how to decide things together is an art.  -We need more overt facilitation right now.  -Why don’t we add “orient new riders” to Metta teams’ daily duty? -I think we should have a five-minute group check-in after breakfast to make sure teams have a gameplan. The formula we have is by no means perfect, and part of the invitation is to learn to tweak it together.  When it felt frustrating, I noticed – if I felt into it — that part of my impatience carried profound grief that as yet I have such little experience deciding things this way; wrapped up in those emotions is also anger at a political system that frequently feels co-opted by corporations. I get caught up in wishing “THEY” would do something about it, forgetting: There is no they.  This being human is a WE thing.  Stepping into the circle means stepping into my own power — speaking up,  Being seen, willingness to voice my view, awareness of my shadow instead of projecting it. No resentments. Letting it be clumsy and slow while we get the hang of it.  Practice makes perfect.

Local harvest sweetens breakfast's soaked oats.

Team Joystice League Internationale steppin up the food game with nori rolls.

Luckily, in this process of circling, food is the glue.  Amazing meals. Sometimes repetitive. But, plenty. I cherish what happens when we all arrive from various tasks, join hands, and take a breath: a current of energy zings around and links us.  Sigh – - somewhere in the fiber of my being,  this is the truest thing. And I miss that it’s not my daily experience (yet). And I treasure access to it.   This year food felt especially sacred – and not just because I indulged in ravenous displays of affection with the fruiting Autumn Olive bushes that grow rampant in Michigan ditches. Nom nom nom.

New traditions crafted more consciousness around how sacred this act of eating is and can be.  During training, Hooprider shared a Rainbow tradition of serving us all –cooks would sit in the center of the circle and fill the bowls, spotlighting the gift that is this sacred sustenance. It’s easier for me to grow awareness around eating patterns in a group. I notice for myself: in the absence of other substances, comfort eating kicks in. Overeating (especially sugar or carbs if they’re around) leads as the addiction of choice.  But instead of being isolated in emotions, we befriend each other and face it full-on.  Slow Truth invited us all to a “Yoga of Eating” discussion one day after lunch; we took time to share our family histories about food (which was a fascinating memory-lens on culture and class!) and our current food goals.  One night we shared a silent meal, to eat as meditation. A sweet boon was meeting the amazing people at the Wobbly Kitchen in Detroit who cooked for the Occupy conference and laden us with their delicious excess.   Their culinary skill and “come one come all” attitude revealed good food’s power to draw in, include, and build community.

Challah for Shabbat, at Strawbale Studios.

Nowhere did we feel this as strongly as our Shabbat dinner in the city.  Though I mostly witness Quaker ~ Buddhist~ trickster traditions there, the Possibility Alliance shares Shabbat as a week’s end tradition, to come together and celebrate the joys and challenge of being community. Superheroine Earthly Delights, who had just been interning at the PA, suggested we continue the ritual on the ride and even managed to score some challah via Tangerine Dreamer’s timely arrival. As we shared the songs,  broke the bread, passed the cup, and gave voice to the week’s joys and sorrows at a long wooden table at Strawbale Studio, it became palpable how easy it is to love one another when we get to glimpse the real deal, when we open enough to let each other love the ugly spots too. In Detroit, we modified the ritual for time and supplies but the gist stayed intact.  We sat in a circle in an empty driveway, and frankly I had doubts that it was a good idea to be so vulnerable and visible at the same time.  But what happened melted my hesitation– curious neighbors joined in and shared their truth too. Passing the cup on the cracked pavement: right here, “We are standing on holy ground.”

Supernova of unending Love. Believe it. {photo by Wandering Wolf}

Saying goodbye to Jasahn in Detroit. {photo by Wandering Wolf}

Could it be, we are so hungry to be really seen by a group?  Maybe it typically manifests as superlative press coverage, rejoicing in a public award, or inwardly noting with relieved approval that X number of people liked my facebook status.  But something so different happens when that witnessing is LIVE in the moment, energetic feedback loop open.  Learning to receive love and attention, in person, from a group, is so powerful. Maybe we usually reserve that privilege for performers and other public speakers. But maybe we all really need it. Maybe it belongs to each of us:  the human right to be overtly cherished in the present moment, for being alive and doing our best, in our own particular fashion.  My favorite ritual of the ride is this: the supernova of unending love.  Yes, I do have to bind and gag my inner cynic to fully participate. (But she is getting so used to that.)

We invite our host, if they so wish, to stand in the circle and silently receive as we carefully reflect back to them qualities we’ve noticed about Who they are.  We share until complete, then swirl around them in a giant, spiraling group hug.  We also offer this to one another when we leave the ride to head back to the world.  And even though I know what’s coming, it breaks me open every time. To receive reflections that aspects of my heart are coming across loud and clear, despite my oops and edges, is so healing to hear.

Dare we dream?  Is it too dorky, to be this honest?  Will you laugh at my dream if I dare share it? With awareness of how my conditioning makes we want to act too cool for all this, I love admitting how much I like this play.  How much I need these cheesy rituals.  How I don’t really think they are all that cheesy. Or I just like cheese and that’s good too. How much I’m ok with being a fool for love.  I see that so much of my fear and withholding is the result of social conditioning to maintain the status quo.  The more I let my needy ego rest in an open palm, the more I unwrap supposed definitions of Success, the more I get to play with the heart of This Being Human.

At the end of our training, before we headed out, we had a naming ceremony in which we christened ourselves.  Then, there in the grey-day mist, we each ran and BuRsT thru a giant piece of brown paper labeled IMPOSSIBLE.  Each person had their own style, strut, swagger as they broke on through.  The joy mounted exponentially with each claimed Possibility.  We are greater than the sum of our parts.

Soular Eclipse shows us how its done.

Wander Woman working her bike-fixit magic.


My continuing joy of the ride was to encounter Teachers – waymakers who have committed their life to a manner of being my soul glees at seeing. Much of my spiritual learning so far has come from books, media, and swapping notes with friends. To have a flesh and blood being nearby who I aspire to emulate, steeped in longterm commitment and with experience they’re willing to share, lands the learning so deeply.

WanderWoman For real: every single one of the superheroes was my teacher.  But WanderWoman wow’ed me pretty wondrously. Ruthie Woodring has a superheroes’ name and a superheroes’ job even in her real life. She co-founded Pedal People, a collective in Northampton that hauls peoples’ trash, recycling, and compost by bicycle.  Pictures of her bike-hauling Rubbermaid stacks of waste thru heavy snow emanate equal parts sheer possibility and humorous work-is-whatever-you-make-of-it. Her commitment to a biking lifestyle is so joyful, simple, deeply held…. I stood close, hoping her can-do attitude would rub off on me; and I just hold her in mind if ever I feel wimpy in my winter riding.   She’s been adventuring with the Superheroes for years and shines as a guiding presence in a very humble, silent, but sparkly-eyed way.  She leads by example.  Her pure athleticism astounds as she carries the lion’s share of the group gear weight; her patience glows as she fixes creaks, brakes, and flat tires as the group’s maintenance wizard, and her no-fuss organization skills made me try and pack a little faster…. Definitely a new lady hero of mine.

Rood is an Old English unit of area, equal to one quarter of an acre .

Three Roods Farm Greg and Robin shone as sacred stewards of the land.  From their website: “We decided to go into farming because we believe that personal health is best maintained by eating fresh vegetables and fruits; that a healthy society is best encouraged by a cooperative relationship between the producer and consumer; and that organic farming can help restore the earth to health.”   Even when conservative neighbors have thought them strange, they remain joyful in their commitment to organic gardening, integrating permaculture and biodynamic design.  They encourage ‘incrementalism’ – starting small right where you are, and increasing acreage and complexity with experience year by year.   Their land has become a community hub for conscious gatherings like satsang in the teepee, dances for universal peace, and new moon gatherings.  Their kindness, gentleness, and generosity enveloped us.

The Joyful Weaver and her portable cobb turtle oven.

Strawbale Studio At once industrious and easy-going, the Joyful Weaver (Deanne Bednar) welcomed us to the Strawbale Studio with a generous tour, sharing her wide-ranging projects from the natural cottage project, rocket stove benches, spiral outhouse, turtle ovens, and large gardens.  Her vision:  “Natural Building helps us connect again to our local natural environment,  to our own intuitive and innate creativity, and to each other. It helps us to shift from an industrial, and often toxic building process to one that is affordable, empowering, community-building and life-affirming. We are co-creating ~ learning to dance in balance with nature.” She was amazing at leaving us up to our internal leadership to find projects we enjoyed, both guiding and giving freedom.  Her grin speaks of mischief; her work coveralls shows she means business.  Her land is also a magical hub for local community and learning, from full moon circles to workshops on cheese-making and thatching.

Imagined skyline of religious harmony.

The Song & Spirit Institute is the creative love-child of a musical partnership between a Franciscan friar, Al, and a Jewish troubadour, Steve.  Their singing together grew into a shared dream, which led them to acquire a large building and set up a non-profit group that celebrates interfaith partnership.  Their vision: “When we experience another’s culture, their music, rituals, beliefs — we come to understand that there are no others — we are all one people seeking the same human relationships, grappling with the same Divine Mysteries.” The hearth in the library, the large garden, even the guest rooms (each labeled with a spiritual hero from a different faith tradition!) beckon you to balance resting and learning, connecting and also turning inward: be still and Know that I Am God. “I Am” – this center is a space for sharing that unique self-realization.   We were serenaded by Al and Steve as we pieced together mosaics and sewed prayer flags, inspired to be part of their expansive creation.

The Adinkra symbol "DUAFE" for beauty & cleanliness ~ looks over the garden beds.

D-town Farms is an abundant 7- acre sanctuary situated within Rouge Park on Detroit’s west side featuring organic veggies including a giant field of magical, happy collards, a rolling hoophouse plus three other hoop houses, bee hives, mushrooms, and an elaborate composting system.  The garden is tended by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, whose mission it is to “build self-reliance, food security and food justice in Detroit’s Black community by influencing public policy, engaging in urban agriculture, promoting healthy eating, encouraging co-operative buying, and directing youth towards careers in food-related fields.” We were blessed to receive a generous tour by the executive director, Malik, ending with a Q/A session and frank assessment of white privilege, land ownership, and race relations in Detroit.  (I have taken to heart his admonishment to us in support of racial healing: “do your work with other white people” – that our waking up and healing up has much to do with sharing awareness of internalized racism in our white communities.  My first step is a Witnessing Whiteness class at the STL YWCA, unpacking that invisible backpack). I left inspired by their innovative solution in leasing land within a city park, challenged to dig deeper in my thinking about land ownership, race, and privilege, and humbled by their powerful commitment to wake up every day and DO THE WORK. >>>



@big fat bank

“the things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done – that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.” – Bucky Fuller (in a letter answering a question from 10yr Michael inquiring if he is a thinker or a doer)

Before I left the ride, we took a day of rest to sightsee Detroit. The Heidelberg project woke my sleeping Cherokee ghosts.  Giant polka dots turned white siding into wonderland; an army of stuffed animals turned a rickety house into an eerie, staring sculpture.


Creative, resourceful, artist-led, citizen-solutions bonding neighborhoods together — and, years later, crumbling and laden with black mold.  Well meaning and lovable, yet not longterm-livable? Temporary fix turned health hazard? Story not done yet?

Then, walking around Chicago during a train layover on the way home, I encountered an image that echoed that same giant rainbow of dots, in a slick painting adorning a fancy bank lobby.

Molecules. Thought particles. Resources. I carry these as clues. My mind is still connecting these dots, finding the “yes, and” in these experiences.  So often I witness soulful ways of being ache for resources, and then well-funded ventures lacking soul. I know it doesn’t have to be either/or.  I know our humanity connects us despite apparent separation. I know, even in this moment, we are innovating and synthesizing new solutions. In one ear, I hear Bucky’s advice to tune into my own drumbeat.  In the other, I hear an inner critique that I’m too old to not have a steady commitment to a job+family+babies. My ego aches for something sturdier, safer, more “successful” than this ongoing inquiry. My spirit just laughs and laughs, throwing its hands up as the roller coaster of emotions takes a plummet or an inch-by-inch rise. Annica. Changing. Changing.

If the take-away from the Texas ride was “The Big Getting Rid,” as we labored to help free people from toxic relationships to over-accumulation, the resounding lesson from the Michigan ride was “Come Back to Earth”…..grow food and build the communities necessary to support deep health for self and planet.

Today, winter in St. Louis, I am walking in Tower Grove Park, reflecting on the ride from a vantage four months later.  I find a red magnet in the shape of an I.  “What is this – I, me, mine?” The lesson continues: wa-haaaaaa! it’s Whatever.  Catch the Laughing Monkey of the present moment, in my face.  Getting free from the grip of the ego’s projected success fantasies, tuning in to the rainbow of Omnipresent resources abounding when I align, I can keep tuning in to these clues coming to and from my deepest intuition. And hop on my bicycle to keep inquiring. Meanwhile, my working hypothesis is the same as always.

Sure is nice to be Alive. ;o)

One Response to P L A Y @ S U P E R H E R O – I N G

  1. MamaRobin says:

    So much depth and color. Thanks for putting it all down. Could be the basis of a book some day. I especially like the part where you explained what was different between this bike ride and the last one; the ways that you have grown and the willingness of the group to explore the difficulties of being super heroes. Peace be with you SeredipiTease! ~ Dancing Breath

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About me
Educated as a painter, learning as a yogi, and playful as a baby monkey: I am a willing human being __ emphasis on the Be. I am traveling-learning, designing projects to feed my inquiries while attracting adventures and connecting with tribes that grace my journey with experiential wisdom in creative healing and joyful sustainability. My passions are catalyzing radically simple + beautiful + fun intentional community, sparking spontaneous collaborative singing and dancing, acroyoga, permaculture, and loving children.